UC Riverside Campus Saves Energy and Cuts Operating Costs

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Case Study by Suzanne Rowe Barrett and Rose Titcomb

Established in 1907, UC Riverside (UCR), in Riverside, California, is a public land-grant research university & is one of 10 campuses in the California University system. The campus sits on over 1,900 acres in the foothills of the Box Springs Mountain. 

Through a series of audits of the university’s central utility plant systems and equipment, UCR identified several energy efficiency measures (EEM). The campus chose to target thermal insulation replacement for steam system equipment, with a primary goal of saving energy, reducing operating costs, and increasing safety. In 2021, put their central plant project out to bid. Thermaxx secured the bid and manufactured custom insulation jackets for 195 steam components. Thermaxx also subcontracted D2 to install over 650 feet of hard insulation in the plant. These measures combined to reduce output by over 40,000 therms per year, helping UCR reach their project goals.

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When asked to comment about the project, UCR’s Chad Sisco, a Mechanical Engineer in the Department of Energy & Engineering explained, “Our steam piping within the main steam plant is constantly being touched, whether it be for service or repairs. So, over the years, our piping has resulted in a mix of well insulated sections adjacent to poorly insulated or missing sections of piping insulation. In the winter it’s kind of nice how warm it is in there, but in the summer, it is extraordinarily hot considering we are pretty much a desert landscape with high highs and low lows in ambient temperature. However, it was costing us a lot of energy without insulation.

We are now saving what amounts to over 51 homes’ electricity use in one year! That is pretty incredible for how physically small this plant is.” - Chad Sisco, Mechanical Engineer, UCR

"We wanted a solution that could be removed for service and re-applied while maintaining the high efficiency that well insulated systems contribute to. Thermaxx jackets are great for that. The Velcro and D-rings with additional drawstring provides a well-fitting jacket, repeatable in installation. Our environment proved pretty tough scorching some material, but the customer service was excellent and we were able to remedy the situation using a different strapping option available through Thermaxx. A bonus was the slate tag system. Each jacket or section of hard pipe was given a tag with a QR code. Scanning it took you to a website which contained all the information about that asset. Pictures of the pre- and post-installation conditions came in handy, including the ability to add notes, and use for future service when needed. We couldn’t be happier with how the project turned out! We are now saving what amounts to over 51 homes’ electricity use in one year! That is pretty incredible for how physically small this plant is.”

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